Jump to content

Avernum Art Project - Redux


Necris Omega

Recommended Posts

So somehow I found myself digging through some downright ancient posts and files and found what was the oldest and very first digital rendition I ever did of Demonslayer.

 

Demonslayer Circa 10 years ago - http://i.imgur.com/lTB1D3x.gif

 

... Yeah! Thankfully Spiderweb Software isn't the only one who's benefited from a decade of growth and experience. As shown here I've gotten a touch better in time.

 

But, to the meat of the subject, I've gone back and reworked some of the pieces from my earlier attempts. I standardized the dimensions to a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and also did some retouching, redesigning, and sometimes straight up recreating of some of the originals.

 

Alien Blade - http://i.imgur.com/xkXzAgB.jpg

Black Halberd - http://i.imgur.com/m3vLJ1l.jpg

Blessed Athame - http://i.imgur.com/V6zWpHn.jpg

Dagger of Hate - http://i.imgur.com/d8ePr4J.jpg

Fury Crossbow - http://i.imgur.com/WOZj5Rt.jpg

Jade Halberd - http://i.imgur.com/v5xGn7v.jpg

Justice Lance - http://i.imgur.com/y02rz7O.jpg

Demonslayer - http://i.imgur.com/TgMtE3f.jpg

Onyx Scepter - http://i.imgur.com/Iembrm4.jpg

Pirate Blade - http://i.imgur.com/hLUmjkc.jpg

Radiant Soulblade - http://i.imgur.com/1CdG17w.jpg

Smite - http://i.imgur.com/yx9lNUu.jpg

Spectral Falchion - http://i.imgur.com/G0aOlP9.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Which is perfectly acceptable given what the Demonslayer is meant for.

 

Uh, what?

 

Anyway, there is no swastika in the image. There are a couple of shapes that I guess could be mistaken for one if you didn't look too closely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Be that as it may, the symbol and the word are irrevocably tainted in the west. A westerner could not possibly use it without being aware of the connotations; its use would have to be seen as a deliberate evocation of Nazism, whether they got the orientation right or not. Unfortunately there are those who still do use the swastika as a symbol of their hatred today, so I don't see the meaning changing anytime soon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The swastika's a commonly seen auspicious symbol in Hindu households, sometimes designed outside our front doors with white powder. Whimsical of the Nazis to use it really, if it was indeed a borrowed idea.

 

Nice!!! But still Demon Slayer is my favorite!

 

I liked the Alien Blade, it looks nice and wavy. Maybe the wave is to make it cut through the air faster.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The swastika is also prominently used as a symbol of the Jain religion.

 

The jade halberd looks awesome, but jade seems like such an odd material for a weapon. It would break easily if not for the magic.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The ancient Norse J-rune, jera, is also sometimes drawn in a way that resembles a swastika. (Additionally, Hitler used a version of the S-rune, sowilo, for the symbol for the SS.)

 

Jade does seem like an odd material for a weapon, unless it was used as inlay along the handle or haft of the weapon. Same with onyx, actually. Perhaps the Avernite designers meant them as ceremonial weapons only, rather than anything to be used in actual combat?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hitler was a well-intentioned extremist in his own mind, his symbols were quite awesome if you forget what they stood for with him.

 

No one ever does.

MMXPERT, just don't. There are good reasons that no-one forgets what Nazi symbols stood for. Nor should they.

 

Unless you're trying to start a flame war, I can't think of a reason for what you just posted. It would really be a shame if we had to lock a topic that was supposed to be about some cool artwork, just because someone couldn't resist making inflammatory off-topic remarks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to the swastika, the Nazis pretty much killed the Roman salute and made creepy any eagle resembling the Iron Eagle. There are probably others, too.

 

I think MMXPERT's point was that it's unfortunate that these symbols — which predated the Nazis and had perfectly good non-Nazi resonances — are now forever tainted by association with Nazism.

 

The symbol in question in the art reminded me first of octopus arms and of the coat of arms of Sicily and only second of a swastika.

 

EDIT: I think there may have been some over-interpreting the use of the word "forget."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Runes and other ancient symbols are cool. The way neo-Nazis and other hate groups use them, however, is not.

 

We don't have to forget the way they were used in 1930s Germany, but we do need to remember that there can be multiple meanings behind a symbol and look at the broader context in which it is used.

 

And I wouldn't have noticed the resemblance to a swastika at all if it hadn't been mentioned; the design reminded me of a geometric representation of the sun more than anything else.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jade does seem like an odd material for a weapon, unless it was used as inlay along the handle or haft of the weapon. Same with onyx, actually. Perhaps the Avernite designers meant them as ceremonial weapons only, rather than anything to be used in actual combat?

 

Well to be fair the Onyx Scepter was indeed a non-martial item, but that doesn't account for the Jade Halberd. That and a Halberd just doesn't really scream "ceremony" to me, so... yeah. That said, the head is made out of jade IS part of the explicit canon, though, as described in Avernum -

 

"We cannot yet reliably make magical weapons. That's why we want these so badly. There was an undead-slaying spear and a halberd with a blade of jade. And, more importantly, there was the pike 'Giantslayer,' and greatest of all, the sword 'Demonslayer'."

 

But really, it's hardly the first or even the most glaring "misappropriation" of materials in a magical context. I think for me that would probably be the whole "glass" bit from the Elderscrolls Series. Me, personally, I always really loved jade anyways, so I tend to overlook the fact.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My new favorites are the Pirate Blade and the Spectral Falchion. They're all generally pretty awesome, though.

 

The only one I'm still not sure about is the Fury Crossbow. So many wings; it's hard to see the actual shape. I'm beginning to think that the whole wing idea for it may just not work.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't explain why it would also show up in the Avadon series, though.

 

It was obviously brought up to the surface from Avernum, where, eventually, it was sent through the Nether Gate, before ending up on Lynaeus.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Julian May used some type of super-hard glass for weapons and tools in the Pliocene Exile books; it was called vitredur, IIRC. The humans used it because it was light and indestructible; the aliens because they were deathly allergic to iron.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I suppose in defense of glass it -has- been used as legitimate melee weapons by certain cultures, more specifically volcanic class/obsidian, but it's still reinforced by other materials in such cases.

Not just melee, either. I seem to recall that some Native American tribes used obsidian for arrowheads and spear points.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not just melee, either. I seem to recall that some Native American tribes used obsidian for arrowheads and spear points.

 

Perhaps, but it's a lot less counterintuitive than what the Aztecs did with it. An arrow that's liable ot be good for one shot may as well have a tip as breakable as it is sharp, but actually using a sword made out of glass (though many would call the Maquahuitl a bladed club of sorts) is another story.

 

Though... it's hard to overstate how insanely, insanely sharp obsidian can be. Some surgeons prefer it to traditional surgical steel because it makes surgical steel look dull.

 

Hm. Perhaps the Obsidian Spear should be my next art subject...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swords in general puzzle me. Why is it so good to have a weapon that is all edge except for its handle? Why isn't a spear just better?

 

Was it more a matter that swords are all metal, and hence stronger? Was it seriously a problem that opponents would chop through the haft of a pole arm?

 

Or was it just that if your enemy got past the point of your spear, the haft could only give them a bit of a bonk? Was it the full edge of the sword, that gave the sword the edge?

 

Really ancient literature seems to deal mostly with spears and arrows, I seem to recall. Swords were a technological advance. They're not easy to make, because they need to be both strong and sharp. A dull sword isn't much good, but metal tempered to hold an edge is much more brittle than the kind of metal one normally thinks of, and it breaks surprisingly easily. So a sword has to be made in layers, with a tough but soft (for metal) core and a hard but brittle surface. A sword blade is a feat of metallurgy.

 

In the 1960's, the sword my father had as part of his dress uniform was still the traditional pattern that went back to before WWI, and it was meant to be usable in battle. He still has it, and I carried it myself for a while when I was in the reserve battalion of his old regiment. Its blade could hold a sharp edge if it were ever sharpened; it was made by Wilkinson Sword, which now only makes razor blades. The blade is somewhere around 30 inches long I think, and may an inch in breadth. It's not very thick, and it's really flexible sideways. It can bend into the shape of a bow, and spring right back straight. The blade is light, and the hilt is a big basket guard, so the balance point is only slightly above your hand. It's an impressive piece of technology. It's also pretty clearly the ultimate refinement of swords, with the design and material that they attained just as they were going extinct as weapons.

 

A lot of art went into that blade. I'm still not quite sure why it was ever worth it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swords in general puzzle me. Why is it so good to have a weapon that is all edge except for its handle? Why isn't a spear just better?

 

I don't really know much about it, but in Avernum series you couldn't use a shield with the spear, maneuvering a spear with one hand does seem kind of difficult, much easier with most swords.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swords went through several versions.

 

The older ones were a sharp point meant for stabbing combined with a shield much like a spear, but with the slashing option for cutting throats.

 

Then you get the divergence into slashing and stabbing. For a rider on a horse the slashing motion required a sharp strong edge. On the ground against armor you wanted a point to penetrate or a strong blade to slash where it was less about armor penetration and more about damaging the body underneath by crushing through a point force.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The sword is just an elegant idea that works - if it didn't it never would have taken off and come to dominate cultures around the world. The Roman Gladius to Romanian Kilij, Bronze Age Sickle Sword to Tarentino's love of the Katana, swords are an almost universal concept save for cultures that never really had the technology to fully realize them.

 

The spear is... well, a cheap weapon, but that's really all it has to offer. Sure, it might have reach, but it was ultimately eclipsed by the pike, halberd, and other such weapons in that role. While the idea is sound, the basic spear just doesn't have enough to offer in the face of all melee history.

 

Even when you're talking the same technology, however, a sword is just more dangerous. It offers more ways of inflicting harm, and requires less room to fully realize its potential. It may require more upkeep, and is far, far more difficult to create, but it does have greater durability, especially with later materials. Plus, there's the inescapable air of prestige.

 

Spears started out as hunting tools, and for a very long time that's what they were. More than that, many spears were specifically designed as projectiles, divorcing attachment to them in a literal sense. You'd throw your spears, then pull out your swords.

 

As mentioned before, the cost means that you don't make a sword unless you really, really mean it. Generally speaking, a sword is specifically limited to the art of war, or at least combat against other likeminded people. That's why, even if modern technology has put it in strictly a ceremonial and symbolic role, it retains that image.

 

But, the people who all picked up swords in the time when they were technologically relevant were no fools - their lives were depending on it. If the spear was the end all, be all combat weapon, the sword would never have come to be. But, as that isn't the case, the sword came to be, and even came to eclipse the spear in a storied sense, as well as combat.

Link to post
Share on other sites

To paint the sword as technically superior to the spear and a feat of martial technology is a little misleading. There are actually a multitude of advantages and disadvantages to each, some of which have already been brought up. Swords are expensive and technologically difficult to make; spears, in a rudimentary sense, can be easily constructed and replaced. In outfitting an army of conscripts without much training, the spear is clearly the more effective piece of technology. It is simple to teach (point-and-stab vs. more complicated strategies that vary based on the specific type of sword). Moreover, while there seems to be a general consensus in this thread so far that swords are the more efficient weapons for individuals in combat, spears have specific uses in groups where their excellence shines. The most classic (in two senses of the word) example is the ancient Greek phalanx, a tight group of soldiers whose job in combat was to stab repeatedly until their was no more stabbing to be done; contrast this with knights, who would charge into enemy ranks and do the hack-and-slash and then reposition themselves once more to repeat the process. Even in this context, though, a well-utilized group of soldiers with spears could be effective, as horses aren't too keen on charging blindly into a wall of spears.

 

This tends to correlate with dominant ideological paradigms on equality within the military context. In ancient Greece, citizen-armies were deployed wherein each soldier was more or less equal to the others, at least in the military context. Knights, on the other hand, were the highly specialized products of years of training and were kept separate from the peasant-conscript army of regular soldiers. Greece had segments of society in which egalitarian principles were prominent (though definitely not all parts of society) and medieval European feudal systems were quasi-caste. One system is more conducive to the development of democratic systems of government than the other, clearly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The longer the spear, the more that you need both hands, to the point where a Pike is completely unemployable with one hand. While the Greeks used short spears in their Phalanx, the Romans ended up using a short sword instead. While the Roman Sword was primarily a thrusting weapon, with a large shield to block the enemy spear or knock it out of the way, you could either destroy the spear with your sword or stab the enemy with your sword. So while class distinctions did help to make the sword the upper class weapon of choice, in properly trained hands (like the roman legions) the sword was more effective against infantry. Long spears do have some advantages against calvary that they do not have against infantry. Of course, mass heavy calvary charges against a prepared opponent are a really bad idea. Light calvary has many uses, heavy calvary is only really effective if you can arrange to catch your opponent on the move.

 

Interestingly enough, Shaka ended up going to a very Roman type weapons mix during his military reforms, with light spears for throwing and a hybrid spear/sword for stabbing, replacing spears.

 

Peasant weapons (spears, flails, bows, etc) could be effective in the defense, but were not as good offensive weapons as swords. Bows may be an exception, but there was a lot of training and practice involved in using a long bow properly, and they were a lot harder to make than a spear or flail.

 

In the US military, one of the last swords intended for calvary combat use was designed by a former olympian, 2Lt George S. Patton, Jr. It was already obsolete by that point though many military swords were turned into machetes in the pacific theater of WWII.

Link to post
Share on other sites

English longbows needed a ridiculous amount of training. Plus, they weren't very accurate at long range, so you needed a lot of archers firing upon a massed enemy to be effective. And the archers needed to be kept supplied with lots of arrows. Longbows were absolutely lethal when the right conditions were meant, but not particularly effective otherwise.

 

Dikiyoba.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The sword is just an elegant idea that works - if it didn't it never would have taken off and come to dominate cultures around the world.

 

That does seem to be the case. I'm still not sure why, though. What's so great about swords? In what sense does the idea of a sword 'work'?

Link to post
Share on other sites

That does seem to be the case. I'm still not sure why, though. What's so great about swords? In what sense does the idea of a sword 'work'?

I've always assumed it's because stabbing is one dimensional but slashing is two dimensional so you have a better chance of hitting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Polearms are also generally a lot slower and more unwieldy, especially in close quarters or confined spaces - or if you're in the thick of a battle with moving bodies pressing into you on all sides. Is the idea of a smaller, nimbler weapon with more functions that hard to grasp? Why do they still make pistols instead of only rifles?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always assumed it's because stabbing is one dimensional but slashing is two dimensional so you have a better chance of hitting.

Bingo, I think.

 

For a quite short sword, like the Roman gladius, the main point might just have been that it was a short spear whose haft could not be grabbed by an opponent because it was sharp; but even there, I think that a short spear with a haft covered in spikes would have been much cheaper, if that was the only issue. It was probably important that a legionary could slash with the blade as well, and at least injure or intimidate his opponent that way, even if the weapon was only really lethal in stabbing.

 

I think Khoth probably has it, that slashing with the full length of the blade was the killer app for a sword, even if it wasn't actually as effective as stabbing.

A bullet can go anywhere, but a sabre is bound to go somewhere.

An opponent has to be pretty heavily armored, with no weak spots, to be able to completely ignore a slashing blade. It's easy to make a thrusting weapon, but adding slashing gives you a much wider range of attacks, and that's probably a qualitative difference, once you know how to use the sword well. Maybe a guy with a sword would just have a huge advantage over any other kind of weapon, in most cases, because he could slash as well as thrust.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Polearms are also generally a lot slower and more unwieldy, especially in close quarters or confined spaces - or if you're in the thick of a battle with moving bodies pressing into you on all sides. Is the idea of a smaller, nimbler weapon with more functions that hard to grasp? Why do they still make pistols instead of only rifles?

 

Yeah, polearms have obvious disadvantages, though they also had enough advantages that I think they gave swords quite a run for their money, historically. In Europe at least, the last dominant infantry weapon before firearms was the pike. I'm not surprised shorter weapons were popular, though. I was mainly wondering why short spears or axes or maces weren't as iconic as swords.

 

I think the main reason they still make pistols is just portability for people who won't use the weapon very often. Soldiers and hunters, who are out there for the sole purpose of shooting, don't usually carry pistols.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one major advantage of swords really is how well they work in close quarters. If you ram two formations of spearmen into each other without shields, a whole lot of men die. If you do it with giant shields, a whole lot of spears end up shattered or pointing upwards uselessly as men glare at each other over shields. But give those men swords and they can hack and stab over, around, and under the shields. The maneuverability of the weapon is an advantage.

 

A total advantage? Of course not. Polearms never really disappeared from battlefields, but they had their place and swords had theirs.

 

Another advantage of the sword is that it's much easier to tote around. You can keep in in a sheath on your hip relatively comfortably, at least until it gets massive. Spears have to be held. And held in such a way that turning in formation doesn't cause mass entanglements or mutilation, which is much less likely with shorter weapons. Which is actually one of the real reasons for pistols: they're eminently portable. You can't happily walk around toting a rifle but you can always have your pistol concealed on you and two hands free.

 

—Alorael, who imagines that's one reason both for the popularity of handguns, both for ease of access to violence and ease of access to self-defense, and the use of pistols as weapons of last resort or for non-combatants. You may have your hands full of maps, steering wheels, or just empty because you dropped your rifle, but you can still draw your pistol in a pinch.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well the sword had long since become the symbol of nobility, from viking chieftains to the cultures that followed, not to mention it even has religious overtones. Biblically speaking, the very first weapons man ever sees are swords.

 

As for axes, well, again, like the spear, it has more than just wartime connotations. Even more so, in fact, as the axe is arguably a tool to a greater degree of use and long before it's a weapon. A person could make much greater use than of an axe than a warrior would over an entire career and never slay anything more dangerous than a sycamore tree.

 

As for the mace... it really doesn't have the vast array of really any of the other weapons mentioned. It's not a tool, so it has no use outside of killing, even moreso than the sword, and never mind the axe. It relies on pure brute strength, so the romance of the sword is gone. It offers nothing in terms of reach over practically anything. Really, the mace is good for transferring force through heavily armored enemies, but other than that it doesn't have much to offer in terms of raw killing potential vs. almost any other weapon. It's a refined club, pretty much, and while it has its place and uses, there are a plethora of reasons why nearly any other weapon invokes more awe or saw greater use.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The other advantage that slashing weapons like most swords, axes, maces and flails have over thrusting weapons like the pike and spear is that you get an extra advantage in power (compare hitting a baseball to hitting a billiard ball). This can make a big difference against an opponent who can afford metal armor.

 

Plenty of people who carry weapons for the sole purpose of shooting carry both a rifle and pistol if they can, especially if they are engaged in mounted ops where weight is less of an issue. In addition to the fact that they are easy to carry, pistols are good close quarters weapons because they are fast to point, which is essential at close range. Rifles are for the outdoors, so-so in a city and great in the wilderness where you are looking at making shots at a much longer range than you can dream of with a pistol, but can be challenging indoors. Many of the special purpose door kicker organizations use SMGs which fire pistol rounds out of a barrel much shorter than that of a rifle, in some cases, barely longer than an open carry pistol's barrell. The US military has transitioned a lot of personnel to a Carbine which is handier than a rifle while not giving up a whole bunch of accuracy at longer ranges. But like any choice it is a debatable compromise as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure that's true about slashing having more force. You don't thrust with a sword the way you poke a cue ball. It's a full-body lunge.

 

At least in the Canadian infantry, when I was in it, not even company commanders carried pistols. Everyone below colonel just had rifles. I don't really know — I've only fired pistols a few times, and the last thing I was going to do was wave the things around — but I don't think a pistol is really any faster to point than a rifle. You've got two hands on the rifle, near opposite ends, so it's pretty quick to twist it back and forth. Handguns just frighten me. Their odds of hurting someone are way too high, so they're dangerous as recreational devices, but their odds of incapacitating an intended target aren't nearly high enough, so they're ineffective as weapons.

 

About cavalry carrying pistols: I heard once that Napoleonic era cavalrymen would sometimes try to break infantry squares by shooting their own horses just as they approached the infantry line, on the theory that a dead horse would tumble through a line of bayonets that no living horse would approach. Was this tactic ever really tried? I don't know, and I'm not sure how to guess. It's an idiotic idea, but we're talking about cavalry.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SoT, plenty of people get killed by improper use of cars each year. While pistol rounds, especially in small calibers are not as effective as incapacitating a hostile target as rifle rounds, they are both equally safe or equally dangerous. Knives, guns, cars, and arguably hands can all be indiscriminately deadly if used improperly or in an unsafe manner.

 

If you look at SAS, Delta, GSG-9, etc they tend to use relatively short weapons that fire pistol class rounds for close quarters work, saving long guns firing rifle class rounds for outdoors and sniper type work. I do not know why that is the case, I believe that it is in part because of faster aiming with a shorter weapon. They also choose to put multiple pistol class rounds in a target instead of using rifle rounds at close quarters, making up for a pistol rounds lower lethality with repetition (two to center of mass or two to center of mass followed by one to the head).

 

About calvary using their pistols to shoot their own horses, it is as you pointed out a dumb idea, but not much dumber than calvary charging a prepared square with bayoneted fire arms or pikes which certainly happened plenty of times. Calvary carried multiple pistols (a brace) for a while because muskets/rifles were single shot weapons, impossible to reload on horseback so four to six single shot pistols provided more firepower than a single shot long gun did during a charge, plus could be used one handed more easily than a long gun could.

 

A full body slash has a leverage advantage over a full body thrust, though my billiards analogy was not very good. Also, a slash covers more area and is harder to step aside from.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the ratio of hazard to utility for handguns is worse than for cars.

 

I'm not really sure what exactly all these 'special' military units normally do. A lot of information about them is probably secret. Some of them have very specialized roles, while others are very broad and use a very broad range of equipment. In general I'd be surprised if they relied on pistol ammunition very often, because pistol bullets don't go through obstacles well, or body armor. That's fine if you can count on getting clear shots at bad guys, but if I were sending in the SAS, I wouldn't want to have to count on optimal circumstances.

 

The thing about cavalry charging infantry squares is that they never really did. The hope was always to catch the infantry before they could form proper squares. Once they did form squares, the cavalry were useless. Horses won't even try to jump over or run through a wall of guys with long sharp things. So cavalry would charge up, veer aside, and ride past. Then they'd ride around for a while looking for a square with a problem, and the two sides would trade potshots. Then the cavalry would ride away, and hope that some cannon can hit the infantry while they were still in tight squares, before they could spread out into line again. The cannon were also the reason that the infantry didn't want to form squares too soon. It was a tricky timing problem for everyone.

 

At least that's all what I was told when I was doing Napoleonic era reenactments. The only time I had to face a re-enacted cavalry charge was for the 175th anniversary of Waterloo, at Waterloo. They kept the horses well away from us, for safety reasons, and anyway those guys looked as though they were having a hard enough time just staying on their mounts. For what it's worth, it did seem plausible to me that our hedge of bayonets would scare away horses, even genuine cavalry horses. The back rank in the square hold their muskets up vertically, so the obstacle is definitely too high for any horse to jump.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...